Does my work practice look institutionalised in this?

Does my work practice look institutionalised in this?

In the wake of the Panorama programme highlighting yet another case of institutionalised abuse at Whorlton Hall I’d been putting off writing this article, it’s one that’s been sat on my desk for a few months now though.

The reason I’ve been putting it off is that I don’t want to be seen to making light of things with a ‘fun and wacky’ online quiz. But I do think there’s a danger that when we see programmes about extreme cases of abuse (and criminal assault) it’s easy for us to think ‘well we’re nothing like that and everyone is kept safe where we work.’

It really frustrates me when ‘keeping people safe’ is seen as a measure of good support. It really should go without saying that a ‘care’ setting will not abuse people or put them in harm’s way.

More than that though, the people we support have every human right to live fulfilled lives where they are loved, and love, and live the lives that they want. (As highlighted in our ‘Manifesto for an Ordinary Life’.)

So we’ve designed this quiz to help people think about everyday practices that are slipping into institutionalised behaviours (not abuse).

When do you get the washing done?

This was summed up for me once in conversation with two men with learning disabilities reflecting on the places they lived in (both run by a well respected and well run provider).

Frank said

“I don’t understand why I have to do my laundry every Wednesday morning. Couldn’t I just do it when it gets full?”

Pete replied

“Oh, I like the routine of having set days and tick-lists, it helps me know where I am”.

So there we have two people explaining how they like a certain part of their life to run. Frank is living in a place where staff have designed systems that make no sense to him. Pete lives in one where it makes sense to him.

The point being that it should be up to the people who live there to dictate the sort of support they get, and also be supported to make the place as homely as they want it. (Whatever that might mean to them).

Take the quiz

Here’s the quiz. It’s 20 quick questions to find out if you’re providing truly great person centred support or whether you’re in danger of letting rigid sytems and processes take control of you and the people you support. We’d love your feedback and thoughts on other tell-tale signs. Post your thoughts and comments below.

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